Women's Basketball ready to build on best season since 2000-01
By: Thea Rosengarten, sports information assistant
Oct. 28, 2008
|As the Bluffton University women's basketball team prepares for the 2008-09 campaign,
fourth year head coach Chad Shutler is looking forward to a season filled with growth,
experience and success. Finishing the 2007-08 season with a 10-15 overall record (4-12
in the HCAC), the best mark by a Bluffton women's team since the 2000-01 campaign,
the Beavers have the potential to be more competitive than they have been in past
years. With the freshman class outnumbering returning players, this year's edition
of the Beavers will rely on hard work and athleticism as the players make the adjustment
from high school to collegiate hardwood, while learning the offensive and defensive
systems of Bluffton basketball.
|The primary focus for the ladies is to demonstrate growth throughout the season-to
get better everyday, from game-to-game while learning how to play consistently for
40 minutes. Although the 2008-09 team has no seniors, it returns six players from
last year's squad and will welcome 10 new faces to the team. While Bluffton lost three
of the top eighteen all-time leading scorers to graduation, the Beavers are ready
to make their own mark this season.
||The Beavers will have to start their season without key four-year letter-winners Lindsey
Bush, Angie Lee and Amanda Bell, all 2008 graduates. Lindsay Bush established a new
Bluffton University women's basketball rebounding record with 647 career boards, breaking
Diane Kempf's mark of 643 set from 1988-91. Bush racked up her 16th career double-double
with 16 boards and 13 points in the final contest last season. Lee finished her career
with 1,059 points, tied for the third highest total ever at Bluffton. Also gone is
starting point guard Amanda Bell who, along with being an outstanding defender, dished
out 243 assists and pulled down 396 rebounds during her career.
"Even though we don't have any seniors, I expect us to be as talented as we have been
in years. We definitely will have our challenges but I am confident that we will grow
and mature as the season progresses," stated Shutler. Key returners to the court include
juniors Ginny Buckingham (Bluffton/Bluffton), Lindsay Ebbeskotte (Delphos/Jefferson), Vicki Auer (Cincinnati/Roger Bacon) and Katie Lord (Toledo/Whitmer). The top returning scorer from a year ago is sophomore standout
Kim Miller (Delphos/St. Johns) who was named to the HCAC All-Freshman Team last year.
Having such a young team, the women are going to need to spend time getting to know
each other both on the floor and off while learning to communicate and working on
the fundamentals. The largest roster in a number of years will definitely help the
Beavers this season, making practices more competitive, which will inevitably make
the team better as a whole. "We have a talented group of women with great potential
for success," Shutler stated.
|The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference is stacked yet again with Manchester
returning nearly everybody from its 2007-08 team that qualified for the NCAA Division
III tournament. Coach Shutler also sees Anderson, Transylvania, Frankiln and Hanover
as having teams that could challenge for the conference championship this year. These
traditional powerhouses all look to be competitive this season because they have the
experience, success and confidence that is needed for a winning team. Shutler added,
"We were competitive with every team we played last year; we just need to learn how
to play a full game and finish teams." If the Beavers are able to consistently put
together 40 minutes of quality basketball, Shutler believes that Bluffton could find
itself competing for a berth in the Heartland Conference tournament.
The Beavers are excited to start their season as they will open with a home game against
Wilberforce on Tuesday, Nov. 18, before hosting the first Bluffton Tip-Off Tournament
in Founders Hall on November 21 and 22. Competition will be exciting as Thiel, St.
Mary's of the Woods and Mt. Vernon Nazarene will all be participating. Bluffton welcomes
several new opponents to the schedule in 2008-09, including a trip to Hiram and a
home battle against Goshen College. The Beavers will also travel to and host each
Heartland Conference school, with Saturday contests being played as doubleheaders
in conjunction with the Bluffton University men's team.